Forget fad diets and Hollywood celebrity endorsements: Japanese women could hold the dietary key to a long and healthy life.
A new study has indicated the benefits of a diet rich in raw fish, vegetables and green tea, with Japanese females having the highest life expectancy of women in selected countries, living for an average of 86.4 years.
The data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that Japanese women outstrip their English counterparts, who can expect to live to 82.8 years. Women in Northern Ireland and Wales have a life expectancy of 82.1 years, while in Scotland the same figure is 80.7 years.
But the ONS said there is nothing stopping British women achieving a similar longevity if they adopt a Japanese lifestyle, with the figures indicating the “potential for further increases” in life expectancy for women in the UK, The Times reported.
The traditional Japanese diet incorporates lower-calorie foods served in controlled portions. According to Naomi Moriyama, co-author of Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother's Tokyo Kitchen, the average Japanese person eats around 25 per cent fewer calories than the average western person.
Crag Wilcox, a leading gerontologist, told The Times that the Japanese diet is full of disease-fighting foods.
He said: “They eat threes servings of fish a week, on average. Plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine – that could lower cholesterol and blood pressure.”
But Japanese men do not reinforce the trend. They can expect to live to 79.9 years on average, which is little more than the average male life expectancy of 79 in England. Men in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland can expect to live to 78.1, 77.7 and 76.5 years respectively.
Men in Iceland have the longest life expectancy at 80.8 years, followed by Swiss men who can expect to live to 80.5.
The findings were published as part of an international compendium of data published by the ONS. It compared figures on population, employment and the economy.